Over-the-Counter and Prescription Retinoids: What Should We Know?

Skin care advice from the experts at UW Health Transformations Jeune Skin Care:


UW Health Transformations Jeune Skin Care Aestheticians Chantel Dunwiddie, Angelina DiModica and Danielle Kalscheur

Retinoids have become a key ingredient in the anti-aging recipe, as well as an important part of acne treatment and the treatment of other skin imperfections.


Derivatives of vitamin A, these ingredients:

  • Promote faster skin cell turnover
  • Stimulate collagen fibers
  • Prevent dead skin cells from building up in the follicles and pores, which causes blackheads and blemishes

They are often referred to as "miracle" products that give the overall complexion a healthy, glowing appearance.


Retin-A, Renova, Tazarotene, Tretinoin and Adapolene are found mostly in prescription products. Retinol is found in many skin care products and does not require a prescription - and it is often called the best skin care ingredient on the market.


Recently, a few of the once prescription-only products became available at drugstores around the country (in a slightly milder form). Sounds like we should run out and get some right away - but not so fast! There are a few factors in deciding which type of vitamin A you should be using.


Factors to Consider

  • First, those with allergies to vitamin A should not use this type of product, as well as women who are pregnant or breast feeding. 
  • Also, retinoids come in different forms and strengths and can also cause some mild side effects, either while starting out (which will fade with continued use) or because it is not the right strength for your skin type. The use of these products with certain other exfoliants can cause the skin to react - and could end up doing more harm than good. 
  • There are also other topical prescriptions, such as those for acne, which should not be used with retinol. 
  • And did you know that you should only use retinoids at night?

It is very important to have a thorough consultation with a licensed professional to decide what is best when bringing retinol into your skin care routine. Side effects and bad reactions can be prevented, and you'll be better able to reach your skin care goals after being educated. Knowledge of your skin type plays a huge role in creating a skin care regimen that will produce your desired results.


Here at Jeune Skin Care, a part of UW Health Transformations, we take the time to learn about your skin care goals and come up with the best approach for treatments and products. We have a great selection of retinol products, varying in strength for each individual skin type, medical strength Tretinoin, and alternatives to retinoids for even the most sensitive skin types.


Our licensed aestheticians have advanced knowledge of a variety of products and treatments. From mild exfoliation to lactic, glycolic and retinoic peels, they will find a skin care treatment just right for you.


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